News Feature | December 13, 2017

Idaho Town's Wastewater Funding Questions Mirror Nation's

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

idaho.reg

The line that a wastewater utility in Nampa, ID, is attempting to straddle this month is emblematic of the nation’s struggle to address the costs of desperately needed treatment plant upgrades.

At the center of the debate is the community’s need for massive investment in an existing plant and the requisite rate increases that this move would bring.

“Upgrades to Nampa’s wastewater treatment plant, projected to cost about $149 million, may increase most Nampa resident’s monthly bills through the year 2025 or later,” the Idaho Press-Tribune reported.

While the city’s wastewater advisory group has outlined multiple avenues for funding the upgrades, they all would require increasing sewer rates.

Matt Gregg, the project manager, presented the potential funding plans at a workshop in late November. One option had the city paying all upgrade costs upfront, which would increase sewer rates by 93 percent from the fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2019, bringing average monthly wastewater bills from $24.47 to $47.22.

Another scenario would offset some upfront cash investment with debt funding, bringing average monthly bills up to $28.57 for fiscal year 2019.

The third and final outlined scenario was also a combination of cash and debt funding, but with rate increases frontloaded so that average bills would jump to $46 in fiscal year 2019.

“Gregg said they are still gathering input from the city’s ratepayers on which scenario they prefer through the advisory group meetings,” the Press-Tribune reported. “The group will present the results and a recommendation to the Nampa City Council at a workshop in early 2018.”

The upgrades are needed to lower phosphorus limits in wastewater, among other improvements. They will be taking place through 2025 in a staggered process.

To read more about how utilities make spending decisions visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Slice of Nampa," Joshua Wood, 2017, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/